'Working to preserve the rich heritage of the Temecula Valley'
The Temecula Valley Garage
by Jeffrey G. Harmon
One of the earliest Auto Garage and Gas Service station was owned by Frank L. Fernald. Charles and Sarah Fernald and children moved from Maine to Temecula some time before 1895. Frank L. Fernald married Catherine B. Van Nest. Catherine's sister married Ormiston Gonzalez, son of Jose Gonzalez.
Mr. Fernald established his auto garage sometime after 1900. There is a garage mentioned on May 13, 1910 in the Lake Elsinore Valley Press, but the proprietor's name is not given.
The Fernald family enjoyed tennis. On March 12, 1912 it was reported that with the assistance of the public spirited townsmen, the Fernald family laid out a tennis court.
F. L. Fernald also had a quarry. His quarry specialized in blue granite. He did monument work along side doing his garage. (Makes one wonder if some of the grave stones in the cemetery were done by Mr. Fernald)
By May 1917 Mr. Fernald's business was doing very well. He took his gasoline tank and put it underground. This was helpful in better servicing the automobiles.
However, in June 1917 tragedy struck. Mr. Fernald came down with appendicitis. He was rushed to the hospital in Riverside where surgery was performed. He didn't survive. He left behind a widow, Catherine, and several children.
The widow Mrs. Catherine Fernald, was determined not to give up. Her parents lived in Inglewood and she would visit them often. Her oldest son, Neal, was planning to go to school in Los Angeles in the fall. Mrs. Fernald kept the business running until the war broke out in Europe.
Young men left the Temecula Valley and reported to Camp Kearney. They were called the Liberty Boys. It was reported on September 28, 1917 the young mechanic, Walter Chapin, of the Temecula Valley Garage, left his employment to go beat the Kaiser.
Mrs. Fernald was desperate to keep the family business going. She searched for another mechanic, but the work force was scarce. Around October 12, 1917 she found Mr. A. D. Nichols of Newport Beach. The work arrangement was going to be temporary until she found someone more permanent. However, the business arrangement worked out well. Mrs. Fernald advertised in the Lake Elsinore Valley Press Mr. A. D. Nichols as a very experienced auto mechanic.
On December 7, 1917 Mrs. A. D. Nichols left Temecula to visit her parents in Chicago. (The newspaper never mentions her returning to Temecula)
In January 1918, Mrs. Fernald made improvements on the garage. She placed a cement foundation over the underground gas tank.
She made numerous trips back and forth to Inglewood to visit her parents. A. D. Nichols made a few trips to Los Angeles as well. In May 1918, A. D. Nichols, Mrs. Fernald and her family made a trip to Inglewood together.
On June 7, 1918 it was announced that Mrs. Fernald and family were moving to Inglewood. The Fernald boys sold their two burros and spring wagon to Joe Welty before they moved. On June 21, 1918 Mrs. Fernald announced that she was closing the Temecula Valley Garage.
Alfred Knott, the town's blacksmith, announced that he was planning on opening a garage. On June 25, 1918 Alfred Knott went to Riverside on a business trip. He secured a loan and broke ground on his new garage. The building was going to be 25 X 70 feet. Lloyd of Elsinore did the masonry work. On August 2, 1918 it was announced that Alfred Knott's Garage was opened for business. He also began selling Chevrolet cars to local residents.
Loren Fernald, the second oldest son of Mrs. Fernald, continued making business trips to Temecula to check on the family property.
Alfred Knott was not alone for long. On August 16, 1918, The Hegel brothers of Santa Monica rented the Temecula Valley Garage. The brothers continued making business trips back and forth to Los Angeles to maintain another business they owned.
The Hegel brothers didn't stay in business for long. On February 7, 1919 the Hegel brothers turned over the business to Mr. W. F. Burgess. Al Hegel was ill and couldn't continue the business.
Mr. Burgess made improvements on the place by installing a large sign board.
When the business changed hands, once again Loren Fernald came to town to watch over the changes.
On August 1, 1919 Burgess discontinued doing business at the Temecula Valley Garage.
During this time Mrs. Catherine Nichols came to town to look after business interest. It appears that this is the first time she has returned to Temecula since she moved to Inglewood. In the year's time since her departure, she had married A. D. Nichols.
On September 26, 1919 two men reopened the Temecula Valley Garage. One name could be found for this new owner, Mr. Laughlin. They had high dreams and aspirations for the business. They took out several weeks' worth of advertisement in the Lake Elsinore Valley Press. They billed themselves as Auto Surgeons, that never lost a case.
Mysteriously though on November 17, 1919, the business partners left abruptly for Los Angeles.
On January 16, 1920 it was reported that Dean Nichols sold two buildings next to the garage to L. Marrufo. Mr. Marrufo moved the two buildings to his property.
It looked like the end of Mr. Fernald's Temecula Valley Garage. There was no further mention on the garage being rented to anyone else.
Alfred Knott survived a year of competition from three different owners all who had dreams of establishing a fine business in Temecula. In the end, Mr. Knott came out on top. The Knott Garage stayed in business till the 1950s.
Mrs. Catherine B. Nichols died at the age of 67 on March 9, 1946 in Los Angeles County.
(Information provided by the Lake Elsinore Valley Press, the Temecula Gossip Column)